If you have to buy it, get the best deal!
I have a lot of makeup brushes. When my beloved Lancome #17 disappeared, I ordered a Sephora #71 (on sale for $11 as a replacement). Knowing my favorite brush would pop up again, I did not want to replace it with an expensive one. The Sephora brush is not as good as my Lancome one and has a slightly different overall shape, but it got the job done while I searched for my precious. Less than one month after ordering the Sephora brush, it disappeared, too! My Lancome brush was still missing, so it was finally time to purchase a brush I’d been putting off for years. Yes, the infamous MAC 217 has eluded me for a while, but why?
As a deal seeker, my MAC collection is very small. The brand has hits: Ocean City Blush, Melon Pigment, Candy Yum Yum, and more. It has decent entries: Casual Lip & Cheek Colour For Your Amusement and Mineralize Skin Finish Jolly Good. Then, it has the limited edition eyeshadow palettes that often miss the mark, here’s looking at the extremely disappointing Bloody Brilliant Eye Quad that has no right calling itself brilliant. I could not even keep that disaster.
MAC’s most famous promotion is free expedited shipping. Who does not want their pretties to arrive quickly after ordering them. This girl does. For a more impressive promotion, I’ll gladly take slower shipping though. When MAC revamped their site over the summer, it actually offered a discount shocking the beauty world. Discounts at MAC do not happen, so I almost partook in that deal. After mulling it over, I decided to pass. There are almost never any MAC gift with purchases either. You can occasionally get a deal on MAC at an outside retailer, so I have only taken the plunge with a direct MAC order one time.
When I went to buy this blending brush, there actually was an expedited shipping option directly from MAC, but I passed. Sample selection at Nordstrom was surprisingly unimpressive. This is the retailer known for surprise deluxe samples of high-end brands, so seeing nothing but foils does not impress me. Macy’s requires a $50 beauty purchase, and my order would come in at $42. That left Bloomingdale’s. I love Bloomie’s and saw that they were about to start a triple points on beauty promotion from the 13th through the 18th. It is usually only double points. They were also offering four samples with any beauty purchase. Waiting until the 13th backfired a little, because some of the better samples were out of stock. I still got 4 samples, triple points, and free shipping on the order. With MAC, it generally does not get better than that (which again is why my collection is so small).
The samples I selected were: a 0.02oz Narcisco Rodriguez Eau de Parfum, a 0.07oz foil of La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream, and Lancome Absolue L’Extrait Regenrating Ultimate Elixir. Every time I tried to select a fourth sample, it kept defaulting to the 0.03oz Dior Sauvage. Nothing against the Dior sample, but I already received it from a previous order. Then again, I have many samples of the L’Extrait from Lancome. This lovely cream is not thick enough for my skin in the winter, but I am never passing a chance to pick up this 0.17oz sample worth $36. Thanks to Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, I’ve received so many of these samples that I could almost put them together and make a full size jar.
I was pleasantly surprised to see bonus samples when I opened the box as well. It is not the first (and probably not the last) time Bloomingdale’s sent me deluxe samples I did not order. The bonus items were: a 0.05oz Prada Candy Florale, a 0.04oz Carven Le Parfum, a 0.06oz Jimmy Choo Man, a 0.03oz foil of Chanel La Solution 10 De Chanel Sensitive Skin Cream, a 0.05oz Paco Rabanne One Million, and a 0.05oz Tom Ford Noir. Considering the Tom Ford was the item I was selecting that kept getting replaced by the Dior, I was very happy to see it.
I actually found my Lancome Blending Brush frayed and dirty inside a toy bin within two hours of ordering the new MAC brush. One of my boys played with it and did unimaginable things to damage the bristles. Even after cleaning, it still looks very different. Neither boy owns up to playing with it, so I am not sure who had fun with it. It is odd that whoever is taking my brushes keeps taking blending brushes. Of course, it is possible he is taking other brushes, too, but I have only noticed the missing blending brushes. They’re not only my most important brushes, but they are my favorite. When they’re missing, I notice. A random brush could also be missing, but I have not noticed.
My Sephora blending brush popped up the day before my order arrived. It was hiding in a half-filled bag of old clothes that no longer fit my boys. Luckily, I noticed it as I added new clothes in. If my boys did not have recent growth spurts, who knows how long it would have taken me to find it. Those with kids probably know about things getting played with. My car keys were once missing for days, and I later found them in a pair of shoes. My By Terry Baume de Rose once disappeared for almost two months! That wound up mixed in with toys as well. Moral of this article is my kids have too many toys.
The Lancome #17 is domed, long, and soft. It glides effortlessly across the lid. This brush is perfect for blending because it lightly sweeps without redistributing or removing too much product. Thanks to the fluffy feel of the brush, it is gentle and blends lightly to prevent a muddy look more dense bristles give.
The Sephora #71 is a flatter blending brush and actually reminds me more of a shadow brush. It works, but the denser bristles need a light hand to prevent the shadows from blending together too much and becoming muddy. This brush is significantly smaller than the other two as well (which is even obvious in the pictures). I think this is barely bigger than a travel brush.
The Mac #217 is a hybrid of the other two. It has a slight dome like the Lancome brush and a flatter tip like the Sephora brush. I am not fond of the white bristles, because they stain more easily than black, but the bristle color is not a deal breaker.
The MAC 17 does not work as well as my Lancome blending brush. It could be that I am used to the Lancome 17, but I prefer it. Its bristles are softer, more domed, and less dense, which helps blend the shadows with less effort than the MAC 217. This is better than the Sephora 71, because it does not muddy the shadows when I refrain from using a super light hand. I can see why it has cult status, because the blending is beautiful, but I wonder if the people who love it started with it or started with other brushes.
The other item I wanted from MAC was the Whirl lipstick. I’ve hunted for a nice Marsala lipstick ever since Sephora and Pantone announced the 2015 Color of the Year. Sadly, I missed purchasing the Pantone offering by waiting a few days (yes, it sold out that fast). By 01/03/15, it was gone. None of my local Sephora stores had any stock either. Julep offered a “Marsala” Lipstick in their March roll-outs, but I do not believe Primp is close enough to Marsala. Butter London tried Marsala with Ruby Murray, but once again, it failed. After attending a birthday party for my niece and seeing MAC Whirl on my Step-SIL, I realized Whirl was as close as I was going to get to satisfy my Marsala craving.
While browsing Temptalia, I noticed she also reviewed MAC Whirl and it looked like Marsala on her as well. Her skin tone is darker than mine but closer than my Step-SIL, so it convinced me to order it. Their combined efforts are equally attributable to my enabling. Hopefully, it will look as good on me as it does on them. No lipstick is universal, but I swear this lipstick looks good on every person I’ve seen it on. I cannot go wrong with it, right?
While this lipstick is still not a perfect dupe for Marsala, which is easier to see with the flash, it is the closest I’ve gotten so far. It has a little more brown and a little less purple than Pantone’s perfect Marsala color.
MAC lipsticks are moisturizing and long-lasting. They stay put and wear a long time. The vanilla smell is enticing. My only complaint, which is consistent across MAC lipsticks, is they do accentuate lines. I will take that one drawback though, because they never highlight dry patches or have a patchy application. Pigmentation is never an issue.
Disclosure: Affiliate Links